(Bloomberg) -- The Biden administration is “appalled” by new images from internment camps in China’s Xinjiang region and considers it a mistake that a top United Nations official visited the region without being assured of unfettered access to investigate abuses, according to the State Department.

The comments by department spokesman Ned Price came after the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and the BBC released thousands of images of detained Uyghurs, some under the gaze of baton-wielding guards, and shortly after Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, began a controversial and long-delayed trip to China. 

“We are appalled by the reports and the jarring images of the PRC’s internment camps and camps in Xinjiang,” Price told reporters Tuesday, referring to the People’s Republic of China. 

The US has previously accused China of committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang. China has rejected those accusations, saying it has provided the region’s majority Uyghur Muslim population education and job training in massive facilities.

Bachelet -- a former president of Chile whose family was persecuted by the country’s dictatorship in the 1970s -- told diplomats on a call Monday that her trip to Xinjiang wouldn’t be an “investigation” and said that setting high expectations would lead to disappointment, according to participants on the call. 

But Price said “we have no expectation that the PRC will grant the necessary access required to conduct a complete, unmanipulated assessment of the human rights environment in Xinjiang. We think it was a mistake to agree to a visit under these circumstances.”

The UN said that Bachelet -- the first UN human rights chief to visit China since 2005 -- will issue a statement and hold a press conference on May 28 after her trip to Xinjiang ends. 

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.